Published: July 19, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Pook & Pook
DOWNINGTOWN, PENN. – Pook & Pook began June with a two-day sale from the collection of Drs Donald & Patricia Herr; it concluded the month with another two-day auction June 30-July 1, when it offered 625 lots from the collection of American and Continental decorative art dealers, Mark and Marjorie Allen, who passed away in 2022 and 2014, respectively. All but a couple dozen lots sold, and the combined sessions totaled $667,418 with a 96 percent sell-through rate.
If the sale had a magic number, it would be $22,680, the top price achieved on each of the two days. On the first day, it was set early, with a Chippendale walnut slant front desk that opened the sale. The desk, which was dated to circa 1760, was attributed to the Perquimans County, N.C., workshop of Thomas White. Pook’s auction catalog described it as having provenance to M. DuPont and noted it had been pictured in an article written by John Bivins that was published in the Chipstone journal, American Furniture. It sold to a Southern collector who vice president Jamie Shearer said was new to Pook & Pook.
Bringing the same high result on the second day was a 15-foot-tall cast iron and zinc garden fountain made by J.W. Fiske of New York City, circa 1875. Impressive not just in scale, it featured a central column adorned with putti figures below a bowl with lion masks and putti figures with shells, a large central cornucopia supported by putti figures, all topped by a goddess figure holding an ewer and goblet. The catalog noted that the fountain was located in Roseboom, N.Y., instead of the Downingtown salesroom. A trade buyer from New England won out over competition.
“There were a few surprises,” Shearer said. “Not surprised that they did well, just how well they did beyond doing well.” One of the things he was referring to was a piece he said was his favorite lot in the sale, a large Nineteenth Century blue painted pine server that retained an old surface. Measuring 38 inches high and 74 inches long, it had been estimated at $2/3,000 but finished at the amazing price of $15,120, from a New England dealer/collector.
Red painted furniture also did well, not just those in blue. Case in point was a painted pine two-part cupboard from Bergen County, N.J., circa 1810, which found a new home with a Pennsylvania trade buyer for $5,040.
Formal furniture did not pack quite as powerful a punch as painted examples. A Chippendale cherry chest on chest, attributed to Rhode Island, circa 1775, had some condition issues (replaced brasses, finials and feet) did not sell against an estimate of $5/8,000. A New England Queen Anne cherry chest on chest, also with some replaced elements (finials and brasses) and repairs sold below its $3/5,000 estimate, at $2,125.
When Mark and Marjorie Allen participated in antiques shows, they almost always brought along an ample number of iron food choppers, most of which incorporated animals in the design of the blades. An even dozen lots of choppers – most of them offered on the first day of the sale – sold with surprisingly strong results and brought prices ranging from $2,016 to $4,284, all against modest estimates.
Other pleasant surprises included the result for an unusual Nineteenth Century tin carry lantern that had a scalloped bezel and trefoil ornaments on both sides. Standing 17½ inches tall, it went from a $400/800 estimate to $5,040, from a long-time collector in Pennsylvania.
The lantern was one of many forms of early lighting in the sale, a category the Allens were considered specialists in. Pook & Pook offered more than 60 lots of candlesticks, sconces, lanterns, chandeliers and candelabra in a variety of metals, including brass, tin, paktong and bell metal. With ample quality and style, the sale afforded the opportunity for buyers to snap up multiple examples, which Shearer noted that more than one did. An East Coast collector acquired a pair of mid-Eighteenth Century English brass six-shell candlesticks for $6,048, a rare pair of mid-Eighteenth Century English bell metal candelabra for $5,292, a pair of mid-Eighteenth Century English paktong candlesticks for $4,788, and a large Dutch brass chandelier for $6,930.
Delftware was another category the Allens were known for, and it was one of the largest categories in the sale, with about 150 examples on offer. Topping the group and selling to a Pennsylvania dealer/collector for $7,560 was a late Seventeenth Century English Delft blue dash Adam and Eve charger that measured 13 inches in diameter. A trade buyer from New York state paid $5,040 for an early Eighteenth Century English Bristol Delft charger with a portrait of King George.
Staying more local to Pook & Pook was an Eighteenth Century Delft Bleu Persian jardinière that had probably been made in London. Standing 12¼ inches tall and decorated with rope twist handles, it finished at $5,796.
Delft tiles were a subset of the category and one that had nearly 30 lots. Leading the group, and selling to a buyer in California, was a group of 12 tiles that depicted two chickens. The lot flew to $4,536 from an estimate of $300/500. A similar group, in red and showing a chicken and a rooster, brought $1,260.
There were a few categories that were sparsely populated; fine art was one such group, but results were strong, nonetheless, particularly as the offerings were choice. The cover lot for the sale – an English oil on canvas portrait of Sir Thomas Pope Blount, Second Baronet of Tittenhanger (1670-1736) attributed to Robert Dellow (British, circa 1696-1736) – sold to a collector in the Western United States for $9,450, well ahead of its $3/4,000 estimate. Another strong fine art result was that for an oil on canvas painting of the British ship Birkby off the Liverpool harbor and attributed to the British American artist, Duncan McFarlane (1834-1871). It sailed from a $2/3,000 estimate to $5,292 and was purchased by a buyer in Denmark.
Other categories with very few representatives were Asian antiques and needlework, of which only eight lots of the former, and two of the latter, were offered across both days. A group lot of 36 pieces of Chinese export dollhouse accessories and miniatures, including several examples from the Vung Tau cargo, sold just below the high estimate, for $2,268. Sewing up the needlework category at $3,528 was a Charles II canvaswork needlework, which dated to the second half of the Nineteenth Century.
Pook & Pook’s next Americana sale is scheduled for October 6-7.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.pookandpook.com or 610-269-4040.
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
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